‘ObamaPhones’ and the State of Our Poor

‘ObamaPhones’ and the State of Our Poor
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald Sept. 13, 2013

Tim Griffin, a “Congressman” from Arkansas, of all places, wants the government to abolish the “federally funded program” called “ObamaPhones.”

Like “ObamaCare,”“ObamaPhones” is another racist term used by the “White Right” to blame everything on our black president.

Oh yeah. That black president has a name. “Barack Obama,” though fanatics on the right like to refer to him by his “Muslim” name, Hussein.Like almost all racist stereotypes, the controversy is fueled by lies.

The lie is all over the Internet: “ObamaPhones were started by Obama to help his poor Black brethren.”

(And other less fortunate White people rejected by the “White Right” and put in the “Might as well be Black” category because they are poor).

The program was started under President Ronald Reagan. In 2008, under President George W. Bush, it was expanded to give cell phones to the poor.

But it didn’t become an issue until a black man became president. According to the “White Right,” “poor” and “welfare” equals “Black.”

Who cares about the truth, though, when you are a racist? But here is the truth anyway.

The cell phone program is not funded by taxpayers. In fact, it is funded with money collected from the cell phone companies through the FCC. The money is deposited in the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company.

Hey, I didn’t say there wasn’t a bureaucracy involved. I just said the money for these cell phones for the poor doesn’t come from your taxes!

I have a friend who has one of the phones. She gets 251 free minutes to use every month. She can purchase more minutes, but she only makes $663 a month in disability that was earned by her father who worked 50 years and paid everything he had into the Social Security System but died before he could collect a penny.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, another right wing demagogue, blasted the program saying there were abuses in it. Can you imagine being called ugly by a pig?

While I am sure that there are abuses in the cell phone program, the waste is miniscule when compared to abuses by Senator Sessions’ colleagues and all of their cronies and contractors and contributors.

The poor have it rough. No one cares about them. They live in old buildings in neighborhoods plagued by crime. They have limited incomes and barely eat. What sometimes passes as “food” at the little rip-off corner stores, I wouldn’t feed to my dog.

I walked through one of those corner stores. The meat smelled rotted. The fruit was soft and old. The prices were more than what I pay for food in the middle class suburbs.

She banks at TCF Bank, which refuses to clear her Social Security check payments for 18 days! When she over-drafted by two dollars, they slammed her with a $37 fee. That’s a 6 percent penalty over her total monthly living stipend.

Maybe we need “ObamaBanking” and “ObamaFood” programs, too.

There’s no one there to help her. I don’t know how she survives. In today’s world, even the poor and helpless deserve access to cell phones.

In my book, those of us who can pay our bills and still have money left over for savings, vacations and luxury cars, should support programs that make life a little easier for the poor. That includes seniors who are on fixed incomes, too.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RayHanania.)

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